Hexagon mosaic with multiple borders on three sides, tied with yarn ("Flower Garden" variation)

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
c. 1975
87 x 83 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Utterly defying the challenges posed by corduroy is an extraordinary quilt by Mensie Lee Pettway. This hexagon or “Flower Garden” variation derives from a traditional quilt pattern that arrived in the United States in the early nineteenth century from England, where it had been popular in the late eighteenth century. Hexagon, honeycomb, “Flower Garden," or mosaic quilts (as they were variously known) employed stiff paper templates to shape the small hexagon pieces. Mensie Lee Pettway’s quilt contains an astounding 817 hexagon pieces, all cut along the difficult grain of the corduroy. Unlike the typical traditional honeycomb or “Flower Garden” pattern, which builds up uniform rings of color around a central hexagon while expanding and repeating the rows of hexagons, Mensie Lee has deliberately altered the rhythm, refusing to impose a regular color scheme. The result is a quilt that seems ordered but is not. This quilt approaches the application of color exuberantly, like a Jackson Pollock, and fastidiously, like a pointillist; green, blue, red, gold, cream, and several hues of brown are distributed across the surface to keep the eye meandering restlessly. —Lauren Whitley